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The greatest work IN English literature, now in the greatest format OF English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!
The greatest work IN English literature, now in the greatest format OF English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!
15,352 backers pledged $580,905 to help bring this project to life.

Achievement unlocked: THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

Posted by Ryan North (Creator)

AHHHH WE REACHED OUR FUNDING GOAL IN JUST THREE AND A HALF HOURS.  Thank you SO MUCH - because of you, this book is going to happen!!  And it's just going to KEEP HAPPENING and KEEP GETTING MORE AMAZING because of how awesome all of you are being.

I just want to keep saying "thank you" - I'm humbled and thrilled and super excited all at once. I call this new emotion, "exrillbled"! I may be renaming it in the future. ANYWAY!  You guys are the best ever in time!!

As thanks, I've uploaded an illustration for the book by that came in too late for the video but JUST IN TIME for me to share it with you right now!  It's by Chris Hastings.


And hey, since this book is definitely going to be a thing (I said it before but I'm gonna say it again: thank you all SO MUCH), let's start reading it together! This is the pre-edited version of course, so things might change, but at least you'll be able to look back on this in a few months and say "Huh, he caught that misplaced comma after all. Sweeeet."



William Shakespeare (1564 AD - whenever he died) was well known for borrowing from existing literature when writing his plays. Romeo and Juliet is pretty much lifted entirely from Arthur Brooke's poem "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet": dude didn't even change the names. And, as recent Shakespeare scholarship has recently established, the famed play "William Shakespeare Presents: Hamlet!" was lifted wholesale from the volume you are about to enjoy, "To Be Or Not To Be".

"To Be Or Not To Be" is both the earliest recorded example of the "books as game" genre, as well as the first instance ever in the then-newish English language that was kicking around of an adventure being chosen by YOU, the reader.

We've taken the liberty of marking with tiny Yorick skulls the choices Shakespeare himself made when he plagiarized this book back in olden times. They’re there in case you wish you put yourself in Shakespeare's shoes, reading this book as he did, stealing plot elements wholesale and classing up the language as he/you went/go. However, this is not the only way to read this book! Feel free to explore your other options, as each time you read this book you can go on a different adventure, assuming you don't read the book 53,000,000 times, at which point the adventures will start to repeat and they'll probably seem pretty familiar long before that anyway.

Now, take yourself back to History, when ghosts walked the Earth and nobody knew dinosaurs were ever even a thing. Steel yourself to experience the magic of Shakespeare as it was meant to be experienced: in a non-deterministic narrative structure where you end up thinking maybe you made a wrong decision so you mark the pages you were just on so you can go back and make a different choice if you die for some dumb reason.

To be, or not to be: that is the adventure.

Ryan North
Noted Shakespeare Scholar / Enthusiast
November 2012

CHOICE ONE: Choose your character!
CHOICE TWO: Man, what if I just read the acknowledgements instead


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    1. Missing avatar

      David on

      Choice 1!
      Character choosing please.

    2. Missing avatar

      Stephanie Bredbenner on

      Choose your character, please! :)

    3. Missing avatar

      Tine Nielsen on

      Choice one for sure!

    4. Missing avatar

      Emily Phillips on

      Choice 2, definitely.

    5. Missing avatar

      Maryam Siddiqi on

      I always read the last page first, so acknowledgements svp!

    6. Missing avatar

      Randal Cooper on

      Choice One says it's designed to lead to more choices, which might be a trap, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. But Choice Two could lead to an early and untimely demise, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.

      Let's throw caution to the wind and go with Choice One.

    7. Wendel Scardua on

      Congratulations for making this "HAPEN" ! Also: Choice two

    8. Missing avatar

      bluedyn on

      Choice two! Which I hope also includes the copyright page and the dedication. Front matter is fun!

    9. Alexandra Becker on

      Choice one; Characters!! (also - yay!!)

    10. Matt Youngmark on


    11. Missing avatar

      Jim Ottaviani on

      Hey, speaking of misplaced commas, might as well crowd-source the copyediting too, right? (Did I spell copyediting right? Who cares!) Anyway, "They’re there in case you wish **to** put yourself in Shakespeare's shoes.

      And I pick Choice 2. For now...

    12. Neville Fogarty on

      I am ALL about the acknowledgements. Choice 2!

    13. Missing avatar

      Sean Deitz on

      Choice two. Definitely the way to start off a book.

    14. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    15. Lia P Zwanziger on

      One, lets get on with the magic!

    16. Melanie Carson on

      Choice two: skip to the acknowledgements and hope they tell us which is the best character to choose.

    17. Missing avatar

      Alex Davies on

      Speedy! I choose CHOICE ONE.

    18. Ilan Muskat on

      I choose more choices, for a paradox!

    19. Missing avatar

      TJ Warner on

      Finally, a choice for discerning individuals. I'll go with two if you don't mind.

    20. grapeson on

      Choice two, if you would be so kind.

    21. Missing avatar

      Sol_Racht on

      I dare you.

    22. Missing avatar

      LemonMajor on

      Man, what if I just pick choice two?